Latin America is a varied wonderland of snow-capped mountains, arid deserts and vibrant rainforests packed with weird and wonderful wildlife. Its luxury lodges, though, are a welcome contrast to their often inhospitable surrounds, offering the likes of luxe spas, gourmet dining, ultra-contemporary design and expert-led excursions that make for a holiday that’s as adventurous or relaxed as you like. From designer Patagonian lodges to to vineyard-estate resorts, below we’ve compiled our top luxury lodges and hotels in this spectacular continent.
1. Awasi Patagonia, Chile
Patagonia’s only Relais and Châteaux property is located in its own private reserve with stunning views of the iconic Torres del Paine National Park. A stay here means all-inclusive gourmet meals – think local lamb, beef and king crab alongside excellent wine and cocktails – as well as a truly private and personalised experience from one of just 14 villas – each with its own 4WD and private guide.
There’s everything from horse-riding, mountain biking and photo safaris on offer – on which you’ve even got the chance to spot the elusive puma. Each evening return to your private wood-fired hot tub and log-burning stove, watching the light pollution-free starry sky from enormous panoramic windows.
2. Tierra Atacama, Chile
The dust-covered stalagmites and sprawling red landscapes of Atacama may not seem prepped to host a luxury lodge, but Tierra is a welcome paradox to its inhospitable surrounds. This design-led jewel vaunts modern rooms contrasted with handwoven throws and cowhide rugs alongside stunning desert views – which you’ll explore with hikes, horses and bike rides among the canyons and salt pans.
The luxury spa, cocktail bar and fine-dining restaurant don’t hurt, either. It’s outside’s lunar landscape that’s perhaps the true highlight, though – it’s not called the Moon Valley for nothing – where you can enjoy everything from stargazing with an astronomer to guided full-moon walks.
3. Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
This luxury lodge-cum-research station is truly a highlight of any Ecuador trip. Stunning minimalist rooms constructed out of recycled wood and steel look out over the misty forest from panoramic wraparound windows – some even feature a standalone tub – though you’ll want to head out and explore. Situated among what is one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, you’ll not only enjoy activities like spotting exotic birds and walking among waterfalls but also be able to pick the brains of expert naturalists and actually contribute to the area’s conservation.
When you’re not exploring, the likes of chocolate sampling tours, yoga classes on the terrace, wellness treatments using forest-plucked ingredients and soaks in the hot springs spa looking out at secret waterfalls work up an appetite for dining, come evening. Taken in a spectacular glass-fronted room, it’s all, unsurprisingly, sustainable, with the likes of sea bass ceviche and fresh steak on offer accompanied by a fabulous array of Argentinean or Chilean wine. Perhaps finish the night in the forest on a night walk, watching as the trees come alive with nocturnal creatures.
4. Explora Easter Island, Chile
Easter Island itself is a once-in-a-lifetime destination – and a stay here takes the experience one up. This is the island’s finest property, vaunting spectacular panoramas and Jacuzzi-adorned rooms with massage areas that look out over the lush hills, the latter of which you’ll explore with guided hikes and boat rides among volcanoes and lava fields.
There’re even chances to go snorkelling and scuba diving in the crystalline waters, whose lack of pollution and algae make them some of the world’s cleanest. After a day discovering this fascinating destination – those emblematic Moai statues and all – fuel up with classic south American dining accompanied by, naturally, fine Chilean wines.
5. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, Sacred Valley, Peru
Nestled in a verdant valley and framed by snow-capped Andean peaks, the secluded Inkaterra mixes the traditional hacienda with contemporary contrasts. From farm visits and sunset walks to bird spotting, mountain biking and horseback rides, there are a whole host of ways to explore the nearby Incan ruins and colonial towns.
Return to private outdoor terraces that look over the valley, all traditional features – think exposed beams and colourful fabrics – juxtaposed with the likes of ultra-modern bathrooms and in-room iPads. The onsite organic farm produces delightfully wholesome Andean cuisine, paired with South American wines at the bar. Then, soothe any sightseeing aches at the spa, with such treatments as facials and hot-stone massages on offer alongside a plunge pool and dry sauna.
6. &Beyond Vira Vira, Chile
In keeping with the luxury &Beyond brand, Vira Vira is the epitome of design-led luxury. Surrounded by waterside villages, frost-tipped volcanoes and dozens of glittering glacial lakes, guests enjoy stunning views of the organic farm from luxuriously modern rooms – and the hot tubs don’t make for a bad vantage point, either.
Then, after the likes of yoga classes, spa pampering and fine dining, days are spent doing everything from dogsledding and hot-spring soaks to helicopter hiking, fishing and volcano flights.
7. Belmond Rio Sagrado, Sacred Valley, Peru
Another Sacred Valley gem, this property brings to Peru all the classic tradition and style you’d expect from Belmond. Activities here range from the likes of yoga and horseback riding to sacred offering ceremonies and cycling, while more relaxing pursuits come in the form of the indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, heated pool, and spa treatment rooms – a wonderful place to unwind after a day of feeding the hotel’s resident baby alpacas or walking around the tranquil garden surrounds.
Return to river-view terrace-adorned rooms made of natural stone and local timber before dining in one of two restaurants alongside a charming riverside bar that serves signature cocktails.
8. Tierra Patagonia, Chile
This ultra-contemporary Patagonia offering is a wonderful choice for the adventurous spirit. By day, the shimmering Lake Sarmiento and Torres del Paine spires can be explored by horse, kayak or simply walking, pausing to take in gargantuan glaciers and snowy peaks.
Back at base, take in the spectacular snow-capped views from timber-clad rooms, standalone baths or the floor-to-ceiling windows of the spa, alongside massages and hot-tub soaks. Then, the ultra-modern sweeping lines of the restaurant play host to the likes of indulgent wine-paired hearty stews and fall-off-the-bone lamb.
9. The Vines Resort and Spa, Mendoza, Argentina
This designer resort is perfect for the epicurean, with local malbec sampled at the restaurant where, from an open kitchen, a celebrity chef serves up open-flame asado barbecues – the nine-hour-rilled rib-eye steaks a particular favourite. By day, designer villas – some with outdoor hot tubs, plunge pools and rooftop terraces – and spa pools look over the onsite vineyard, explored with walking tracks that snake through the gardens and vineyard rows alongside wine tastings and tours showcased in the onsite small-batch winery.
There’s even the chance to head out on hikes, fly-fishing or horseback rides accompanied by gaucho cowboys who’ll tell you stories of the local area. The spa, pool or hot tub – snacks and cocktails in hand – make for a wonderful sunset spot before you return to the plush furnishings, fireplaces and oversized decks of your villa.
10. Clos Apalta Residence, Colchagua, Chile
Another wine haven, Clos Apalta is nestled right among the vineyards of the Colchagua Valley, one of Chile’s premier wine regions. The onsite cellar and winery means tastings and sommelier-led tours abound, while come evening it’s all matched with fantastic organic ingredients showcased in seasonal menus.
Take in vineyard views from stone-and-wood villas that pair cutting-edge with traditional features – think vaulted ceilings and marble bathrooms with wraparound terraces – before exploring with horse riding, mountain biking and hiking through the rolling hills and relaxing at the infinity pool with a poolside cocktail or – of course – glass of wine.
Dave Warne is Product Director at The Luxury Holiday Company. The Luxury Holiday Company offers completely bespoke holidays designed to deliver unrivalled luxury, arranged by specialists who have more than 200 years of collective travel experience.